Thursday, January 31, 2013

Getting Lost

Before Smart Phones, GPS and pretty much any of the technology we use today to find our way, there was the good old-fashioned road map. Sometimes I miss the simpler times. Then again, I never relied on the paper maps while driving, so maybe it wasn’t all that simple! One thing has never changed though, getting to your destination can be tough if you don’t plan your route! This little journey of mine has required me to not only lay out a road map of where I want to go, but also to be sure and expect the unexpected (do I sound like an ad for Big Brother? Maybe I watch too much Reality TV)! Now, the Roadblocks and Detours post from the other day is the “unexpected” aspect of this little road trip and I have to make sure that when I encounter those, I get right back on my way; however, getting flat out lost can make it difficult to recover and get back on track. That’s not to say that you won’t ever find your way, but you also can’t beat yourself up about it, if you do get lost.

I have been lost before. I was lost for 30 something years and then I was on the path for about six months, and then I got lost once again! And I’m talking really LOST, like an airplane on a tropical island with the guy from Lord of the Rings and that other guy from Party of Five lost! But I digress...for me, getting lost only meant that I wasn’t ready to get to my destination. I wanted to know, “why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?” type thinking. So, I waited. For four years. And then I got the road map out planned my new route. I was ready. Nothing was going to stop me from getting to the end of my journey this time: Detours, road blocks, getting lost, bring’em on! I was ready for the challenge.

People ask me all the time: What makes this time different? How did I get my mind right? And sadly, I don’t have an answer for them. Because what motivated me to get un-lost, may not be enough to motivate someone else and vice-versa. So if you are currently lost and looking for that road map, find out what drives you. I don’t necessarily mean “what drives you to want to lose weight”, but what drives you to do anything that is unappealing. The next time you do something that you don’t really want to do, reflect on what it was that motivated you to complete the task. Maybe that is the key to unfolding the road map to start your own life-changing road trip.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Windshield or Rearview

The basic rules of driving say that you have to use both the windshield and the rearview mirror, you can’t just use one or the other. I have learned that this journey is no different: I can’t succeed without both looking at my future and remembering my past. And much like driving, I would much rather focus on what’s ahead of me, rather than the stuff I have already passed, but there are lessons to be learned from both.

I do keep a few select reminders: some pictures and my former favorite pair of “fat shorts” for example, but for the most part, I try not to live too much in the past. Remembering where I've been helps me stay focused on where I am going. I realize that there is not a short-cut for this road trip, so I have to keep my focus and energy on the long road ahead of me; however, looking at how far I've already traveled, certainly makes me appreciate where I am. As much as I would like to ignore the pictures of me at my absolute heaviest, facing up to who I was only motivates me to continue on the program.

And during the course of this ride, I've realized that there is a dirty little secret that no one tells you: your mind is a powerful entity and it can deceive you! I never fully understood that mind game until now. I can honestly only appreciate what I have accomplished when I look at pictures, because when I face myself in the mirror, my mind plays tricks on me. If you see something every day, you don’t see the changes. Think about those pictures people take of their kids every day for a year…each day, the child looks the same, but if you look at the first one and the last one, the changes are drastic! Weight change is no different. And I say “change” rather than “loss” because gaining weight can sneak up on you as much as losing it! If I had looked in the mirror one day and was average weight, then the next day, obese, it wouldn't have taken me so long to realize that I needed a change. But, I did finally make the change and that’s all that matters. I’m not the same person I was yesterday and I don’t know who I will be tomorrow. So, I just keep moving forward! What’s done is done, there is no changing the past, but the future is wide open for new and exciting opportunities! 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Speeding Isn’t Necessary

One thing I have learned throughout this lifestyle change is that, while exercise is important, I don’t have to kill myself in order to incorporate it into my daily routine. I’ve always thought that boot camps, gym memberships, running and pretty much any other death-defying stunt was the only way that anyone could lose weight. Based on that assumption, I didn’t stand a chance in getting off my couch and adding activity to my life. I mean, it has always been my philosophy that if you see me running, you better run, too, ‘cause something bad is chasing me!

Then one day, I read an article about a person who simply walked his way to a healthier weight. I thought, well, that seems easy enough. So I loaded up my MP3 player and took a lap around my neighborhood (about a mile). Although I had been losing weight with a change in my dietary habits, I was still heavy and walking was not real easy. Knee problems, lower back problems, foot problems— they all played a part in making the one mile loop something of a challenge. But I summoned the strength from somewhere deep inside and decided to make the walk around my ‘hood an almost daily activity. After a few weeks, not only were my efforts paying off at my weigh-ins, but I noticed that the once impossible one mile loop was becoming rather...pedestrian. So I started going around twice. In another month, it dawned on me that I went from Queen of the Couch Potatoes to walking two miles a day 3 or 4 days a week. Then I realized I was getting used to walking during the day and craved the activity if I didn’t do it! I seriously had to check to see if I was running a fever or something! Maybe I had been bitten by some strange mind-altering bug while I was walking, because I DO NOT crave exercise.

As time went on, I satisfied that craving and kept increasing my mileage. I walk on my lunch hour and can do about three miles in that time. On the weekends, when I have a little more time to devote to walking, I get in about five miles. And it’s just walking. Nothing else. I have even added a new Sunday routine that combines walking with every woman’s favorite activity— shopping! There’s nothing like a little quiet time walking around the outlet mall and planning my new wardrobe purchases!

No one really likes to torture themselves with a heavy-duty workout (well, I do know a few exceptions!), but walking is a simple action that we sometimes overlook and discount. I know there will come a time when I will have to up my game, add some resistance band training or even some light hand-weights, but for now, I go out and walk and walk and walk.

Of course, you may have noticed there was no analogy to the “road trip” this time, and I can’t let that happen, so here it goes...sure you can speed while you’re driving, but you might get pulled over and that will just delay your arrival. If you slow it down and keep a steady pace, you are less likely to get stopped and you may even avoid a nasty accident. Speed isn’t always the answer, I mean, who won the race between the tortoise and the hare? And, hey, after a while, if you do want to pick up the pace, go for it! With the right training and practice, you could always drive for NASCAR! In other words, if you have taken steps to train for running, then step it up! It’s your journey, take it at the pace that’s right for you!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Detours and Roadblocks

OK, now where was I? So, right out of the gate, I faced a major challenge...that double baby shower I mentioned. Wow! Food everywhere!! I know me, probably better than anyone else does, so I figured the best way to avoid any temptation to just stay away from the kitchen. Of course, being that it was only Day 2 of my journey (in the Road Trip analogy, I liken it to opening the garage door!), I did what I thought was best at the time. If I faced that situation today, I would handle much differently. I could walk in the kitchen, be around all the food and be safe in the knowledge that I would make the right decisions. Did you notice: back then it was a "challenge", but today it is a "situation".

That's the thing I love about Weight Watchers. (I must put a disclaimer here...going forward, I will refer to WW as "The Program" or "The Plan" simply because this is my story, nobody is paying me to tell it and I don't wanna get in trouble!) So, as I was saying, I love this "program" because it's all about real foods and real life, and nothing is off limits, as long as you account for it. Sure there are other programs that work faster, and I have tried just about all of them. But guess where I ended up? Sitting in the meeting, weighing in every Saturday and leaning on my fellow meeting goers for support. Quick is not always best! I mean, really! Do you choose your hair stylist because she's quick or because she's good? Do you choose a tattoo artist because he's fast or because he's meticulous? Why choose a "diet" plan that is hard to follow, even if the results are quick? I am also here to say that the plan that works best for you is one to which you can fully commit.  It doesn't have to be W squared, but it does have to be something that you can live and breathe.

Trust me when I say that I know this lifestyle overhaul is not easy. It takes A LOT of planning, motivation, self-reliance, support, mental-toughness, and determination to be successful. But the feeling of accomplishment is amazing. If you are on your own road trip, you have to make sure that when you hit a detour (and trust me, you WILL hit them), you don't just end the trip and head home. I have a friend who is always telling me that I have internal GPS and that I can get to, or from, the farthest and strangest of places. She's kinda right, but I wouldn't call it GPS, but rather simply having a sense of where I have been, where I am and where I wanna go. If someone throws a road block up, I just have to figure out how to go around it and stay on course. Chances are, it will take me longer, but really, what else can I do? No good comes from getting frustrated and throwing my hands up in defeat.

I decided to discuss road blocks today because I expect that I will hit one when I weigh in tomorrow morning. There was a time when I would throw in the towel and say it's not my fault, the plan doesn't work, I'm through. But not now. Not when I have the chance to learn from the experience. I know that my road trip isn't going to end tomorrow, I still have quite a long road ahead of me, so this anticipated road block can't keep me from moving forward.

So, my wish for you today is that you learn to turn your challenges in to opportunities and always remember that an alternate definition for "detour" is "scenic route".

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Starting the Journey

People tell me all the time that I should be blogging about my weight loss journey. Well, 16 months and 115 pounds lost, maybe it's time I started writing some of this stuff down!

I wanna get something on record, those of you who know me, and I mean really know me, know that I am not the kind of person to put my self out there for public consumption. I am more of a suffer in silence, celebrate in silence kinda girl. But something in me has changed on this little road trip of mine and I guess I could share it with the world...or at least the three people who may accidentally find this post!

In September of 2011, I decided to re-join Weight Watchers. I was seriously overweight and had all sorts of health issues, including high blood pressure, sleep disorders, mild sleep apnea, swollen joints, plantar fasciitis and a whole host of other problems. Not to mention, I was staring down the barrel of the big 4-0! My family and friends were worried about me and worried that, while I may turn 40, if I kept getting heavier, I wouldn't make it much past 40. So, a few of my family members staged an intervention. Shortly thereafter, I was sitting in a WW meeting.

Since Weight Watchers had worked so well for me the first time (insert sarcastic tone here!), I was a little apprehensive about being successful. But I learned something this time, having the right mindset is another important tool to keep in your arsenal. The first week was tough, after all, the very next day after my first meeting, I had a double baby shower to attend. I often wondered if I had set myself up for failure, but I couldn't dwell on it too much. When I went for my first weigh-in, I'd lost 5 lbs! It was then I had realized I had set my self up for success, not failure!

Since this is just kinda the over view, I think I will stop there for now, but I will say this...I bet the two of you who are still reading this ('cause I'm sure I lost one of you by now!!) are wondering why I chose to call this blog Road Trip. Well, this is why: Every year, I drive to Atlanta to see my friends and every year I know that I have an eight hour trip ahead of me. I enjoy this drive, otherwise, why wouldn't I just fly, but more than that, I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment in getting to my final destination. Knowing that I make sacrifices like getting up at stupid-thirty, I mean 2:30 AM, to get on the road means that I can take my time and still get to the ATL with almost a full day to spare. I also know that on this road trip, I have to stop and stretch or get food and gas (I'm sure there is a fast food joke here somewhere!) or just take a little break. But I know that I can't take too long at these little stops. The road is long, but the trip is worth it. This weight loss journey is not so very different. There are times when I would much rather have that extra drink, a piece of cake or even some pizza. Those are my pit stops along the way. If I don't stop and indulge myself with those things every so often, I will completely derail my end game and end up in Kalamazoo rather than Atlanta. So, the moral of the story is, stop and smell the roses, but get your ass back in the car if you wanna get where you're going!

Throughout my little posts here, I hope to entertain and inspire any one who reads them. And if I bore you, well, I guess there's always funny cats to look at elsewhere on the Internet!